One Homeschooler’s Perspective on School-Based Socialization

Education and socialization are like Legos. There are a variety of possible outcomes.


When folks say they desire that process for their kids via public or private school, they’re saying essentially that they want kiddos to take on the norms, values, behavior and social skills of the people around them every day. That means, of course, that the parents want the kids to “fit in” where they are “placed”.

“I would homeschool my kids, but I really want them to get the socialization at the local school.”

I understand that impulse.

Hey, I used to think that way, too.

Most of us parents don’t want our progeny to be square pegs in the round holes of society. Yet every so often I encounter a parent who ruled out homeschooling entirely as an option because of “socialization concerns”–and is now rattled that his or her darling public school child is trying to “fit in” and the behavior is unattractive.

“He’s 8 and already he’s not living up to his full potential. He is worried about what other kids in the classroom will think, if he shows how smart he really is.”

“She’s afraid to reveal how good she is at science and math. She doesn’t want the boys to think she’s brainy.”

Here’s how I’d like to reply:

“If you opted to place a child into an academic setting largely because of ‘socialization’ worries and now she IS trying to ‘fit in,’ isn’t she fulfilling your ‘socialization goal’ for her?”

That sounds rant-y on my part, but it’s a genuine, heartfelt question.

Look, I’m the first to admit that homeschooling isn’t for everyone. Unlike some homeschool bloggers who try to insist otherwise, it’s just not. You’ve got to want to do it. You’ve got to be able to do it.

Yet we also need to pack away the lingering notion that socialization is always best when pursued within an institution. Yes, there are a lot of good schools who do it well. And there are great teachers in great classrooms in otherwise crappy schools that do it well, too. But there’s no guarantee that you’re going to like what you get out of school-based socialization, especially if socialization is your primary motivation for opting out of homeschooling altogether.

So if you are considering homeschooling your kids, go ahead and cross “school= optimal socialization” off the list of reasons not to pursue it.

(There are, of course, plenty of other reasons to opt into or out of the homeschool experience.)

Explore More:

Homeschooling, Socialization and the Only Child


  1. I “home schooled” our kids for one week, when we were between schools in the middle of our move. Long story, but in any case, their mom is an elementary school teacher (at the school they were leaving, no less) and so she brought home the math, English, and science they ought to be doing, as well as giving me hints as to what units they would enjoy most. I found out what kind of things they’d be learning at the new school, and then did a lovely lesson plan for the week.

    We finished it in one day.

    Sis was… stunned. Amazing, Thrilled! The kids only worked for 4 hours, as well, and we did lots of fun things like going for nature walks, going to the library, and doing math at the grocery store.

    In the one week they were home, we used multiple media types to get across messages, wrote poetry, worked on acrostics, learned songs, and did some sign language. In the one week they were home they did more than they had the previous 12 weeks at their public school. And in half the time. And they ENJOYED it. And they still got to socialize.

    I couldn’t do it full time. I could not keep up with them, and I admit it. Our boy is autistic (albeit very high functioning) and too much time around him in close quarters like that and I start to go batty. But I was glad to have done it, and to see what COULD be done.

    Instead, we “after school” which is more to our liking. The boy child needs to learn how to fit in and work with his peers, because he’s genius level academically (and often gets annoyed when others aren’t) and incredibly backwards in social skills. The girl child (they’re six year old twins btw) is average in our mind, but still wildly ahead of her peers at school. When they get home, we have computer things we do, we watch movies “far beyond them”, we play games that constantly challenge them. Not to mention gardening (which includes general math, geometry, algebra, biology, chemistry, English, logic… LOL).

    Of course, we’re also extremely lucky. Both our kids are in the “brainy” group (a small group that has ‘specials’ elsewhere in the school during repetitive times for the other kids who need it). They spend that time working with advanced math and language arts, spacial geometry, and logic. It’s cool to see their homework; I admit there are a couple of logic puzzles the kids got right away that I had to struggle with! 🙂 I love our school here… even more than I HATED the one we left. 🙂

  2. Thanks for the note, Allyson. And happy to hear that you and your family have a school that’s a great fit for all of you.

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